Transcription factor

From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Transcription factors help to regulate genes. Each transcription factor binds to a specific DNA sequence. That is how they control the rate of transcription of genetic information from DNA to messenger RNA.[1][2]

A transcription factor is sometimes called a 'sequence-specific DNA-binding factor'. Alone or with other proteins, they promote or block RNA polymerase. RNA polymerase is the enzyme that copies genetic information from DNA to RNA for specific genes.[3][4][5]

Transcription factors have one or more DNA-binding domains (DBDs). These attach to sequences of DNA next to the genes they regulate.[6][7] Other proteins (such as coactivators, chromatin remodellers, histone acetylases or deacetylases, kinases, and methylases) also play crucial roles in gene regulation. Because they lack DNA-binding domains, they are not called transcription factors.[8]

Illustration of an activator


  • gene expression – how information from a gene is used in the synthesis of a functional gene product such as a protein
  • transcription – the process of making messenger RNA (mRNA) from a DNA template by RNA polymerase
  • transcription factor – a protein that binds to DNA and regulates gene expression by promoting or suppressing transcription
  • 'transcriptional regulation' – controlling the rate of gene transcription for example by helping or hindering RNA polymerase binding to DNA
  • 'upregulation', activation or promotion – increase the rate of gene transcription
  • 'downregulation', repression or suppression – decrease the rate of gene transcription
  • 'coactivator' – a protein that works with transcription factors to increase the rate of gene transcription
  • 'corepressor' – a protein that works with transcription factors to decrease the rate of gene transcription
  • 'response element' – a sequence of DNA to which a transcription factor binds

References[change | change source]

  1. Latchman DS (1997). "Transcription factors: an overview". Int. J. Biochem. Cell Biol. 29 (12): 1305–12. doi:10.1016/S1357-2725(97)00085-X. PMID 9570129. S2CID 2134562.
  2. Karin M (1990). "Too many transcription factors: positive and negative interactions". New Biol. 2 (2): 126–31. PMID 2128034.
  3. Roeder RG (1996). "The role of general initiation factors in transcription by RNA polymerase II". Trends Biochem. Sci. 21 (9): 327–35. doi:10.1016/0968-0004(96)10050-5. PMID 8870495.
  4. Nikolov DB, Burley SK (1997). "RNA polymerase II transcription initiation: A structural view". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 94 (1): 15–22. Bibcode:1997PNAS...94...15N. doi:10.1073/pnas.94.1.15. PMC 33652. PMID 8990153.
  5. Lee TI, Young RA (2000). "Transcription of eukaryotic protein-coding genes". Annu. Rev. Genet. 34: 77–137. doi:10.1146/annurev.genet.34.1.77. PMID 11092823.
  6. Mitchell PJ, Tjian R (1989). "Transcriptional regulation in mammalian cells by sequence-specific DNA binding proteins". Science. 245 (4916): 371–8. Bibcode:1989Sci...245..371M. doi:10.1126/science.2667136. PMID 2667136.
  7. Ptashne M, Gann A (1997). "Transcriptional activation by recruitment". Nature. 386 (6625): 569–77. Bibcode:1997Natur.386..569P. doi:10.1038/386569a0. PMID 9121580. S2CID 6203915.
  8. Brivanlou AH, Darnell JE (2002). "Signal transduction and the control of gene expression". Science. 295 (5556): 813–8. Bibcode:2002Sci...295..813B. doi:10.1126/science.1066355. PMID 11823631. S2CID 14954195.